Panama legislative assembly passes mining moratorium News
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Panama legislative assembly passes mining moratorium

The National Assembly of Panama passed Bil 1110 on Friday, which indefinitely suspends the granting of exploration and exploitation permits for metallic mining across the country. The vote follows the announcement by Panama’s President Laurentino Cortizo in October to hold a referendum on a contentious mining contract with Minera Panama.

Bill 1110 was approved in a special session with 63 votes in favor and two abstentions. The law aims to protect public health and ensure citizens live in an unpolluted environment. It prohibits the Commerce and Industry Ministry from granting any new permits for metallic mineral exploration, extraction, transportation or development benefits. Existing applications will be denied and current permits will not be renewed or extended under the law. The law’s passage suspends all mining industry activities indefinitely while constitutional review is undertaken by the Supreme Court to improve national harmony.

This significant development comes amid widespread protests from citizens concerned over environmental damage from mining activities. Mining, particularly Cobre Panama–Panama’s main mining site–has faced increasing scrutiny in recent years due to reported environmental violations from the mine site in a protected forest. As the need for copper grows with global energy transitions, the government had previously hoped mining could boost the economy and create jobs.

Critics argue the moratorium risks damaging Panama’s reputation as a stable destination for foreign investment. However, proponents counter that protecting public welfare and the environment should take precedence, saying mining poses serious long-term pollution threats if not properly regulated. With 200 reported cases of non-compliance already linked to Cobre Panama, locals have demanded stronger safeguards for their health and fragile ecosystems amid mining expansion plans.